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Linux Journal: The Coming Software Patent Crisis: Can Linux Survive?

Aug 15, 1999, 22:01 (32 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Bryan Pfaffenberger)


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"Bogus software patents pose a genuine threat to computer industry innovation... University of Virginia professor and author Bryan Pfaffenberger contemplates what's going to happen when open-source authors start getting hit with patent infringement lawsuits -- and the picture isn't pretty."

"You just released your source code to the 'Net, and you've licensed it under the terms of the GNU General Public License. But you're in for a nasty surprise. A month later, you receive a threatening letter from the Software Industry Association of America (SIAA). It seems you've violated no fewer than 197 patents..."

"And then suddenly it hits you. That's just the point. You can't write any software without infringing on somebody's patent -- even "Hello World" will infringe..."

"So what's wrong with software patents? Everything. The PTO has handed out thousands of patents for trivial software techniques that any developer working independently would discover. Little attempt is made to determine prior art. Increasingly, the agency is granting patents for obvious techniques that wouldn't surprise a 'Net-savvy sixth grader, let alone an expert."

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